Over some objections, Mobile County District Judge George Hardesty set bonds Thursday for two defendants accused of killing a man that police found stabbed, shot, bound and buried in the backyard of a house on Marcus Drive last month.
The body of 21-year-old Tracie Dennis was located by investigators from the Mobile Police Department’s homicide unit on Dec. 21, 2019. It was excavated from a shallow grave in the backyard of a home owned by David Manuel Cordero Hernandez, 32, and shared by Marcos Javier Morales Oslan, 21.
At the time, Oslan and Cordero were already in the process of being extradited from Jacksonville, Florida, where they had fled following Dennis’ death. During a bond hearing Thursday, prosecutors said the evidence indicates Oslan shot Dennis, but they believe Cordero helped with other aspects of the murder.
“The victim’s hands and feet were bound when the body was found. There’s not a reason to bind the hands and feet of someone once they’re dead,” Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood told reporters afterward. “We believe there were some things that led up to the victim being killed.”
Blackwood said it would be “reasonable” to assume, based on the evidence collected so far, that Dennis’ hands and feet were bound before he was stabbed seven times and fatally shot in the head and shoulder.
In court, investigators and Cordero’s attorney, Domingo Soto, agreed that whatever happened before Dennis was killed on Dec. 16, the incident began over money he was owed for subcontracting work he’d performed for Cordero’s construction business. It seems the amount owed was around $380.
Soto said Cordero, who is originally from Puerto Rico, has lived in Mobile since 2016 and had recently hired Oslan and taken him into his home because he was having some “issues” back in Puerto Rico. He maintained that his client did nothing wrong except fleeing to Florida after Dennis was killed.
Soto acknowledged that his client exchanged “some heated words” with Dennis, but claims Cordero believed everything had been settled until Oslan and Dennis got into another altercation outside.
“He didn’t know [Oslan] had a gun,” Soto said in court. “My understanding is that when they were questioned in Jacksonville, [Oslan] confessed and took the blame for everything.”
Prosecutors disputed that characterization and the version of events Soto presented. However, Blackwood said he couldn’t expand on why the state believes Oslan was the one who fired the shots that ultimately killed Dennis. Regardless, they allege Cordero was directly involved with other aspects of the murder.
They also believe both men participated in burying the body in Cordero’s backyard and then spraying chemicals in the same area in an attempt to mask any odor of decomposition from cadaver dogs.
Oslan was not represented by an attorney at Thursday’s bond hearing, though Hardesty did appoint a lawyer to take his case ahead of an arraignment scheduled later this month.
Oslan and Cordero are charged with murder and both were granted respective bonds of $250,000 and $150,000 by Hardesty Thursday. The state had requested that both men be held on a $250,000 bond.
Jail records indicate neither has met their bond so far and if released, they’ll both be required to wear electronic monitoring devices and will be subject to home confinement. That could be tricky for Oslan, who is homeless, but Blackwood said it’s unlikely he would be able to cover the $250,000 bond.
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